New paid parking zone to be established in Aspen neighborhood

Cars parked along Park Circle in Aspen on Tuesday.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

The final frontier of free parking in Aspen is about to get the kibosh as a new paid zone will be created in an East End neighborhood.

“Zone E” will be the sixth parking zone in Aspen and will cover the Midland and Park Avenue residential area.

During a Tuesday meeting, the majority of Aspen City Council agreed that Parking Director Mitch Osur should establish the zone, which will require $8 to park all day. However, residents will receive four permits, plus a guest permit to park.

Council’s direction goes against Osur’s recommendation that the city begin enforcing the 72-hour rule in which cars must be moved every three days.

Currently, the city only enforces the rule based on complaints, which are growing because there are far more people living in the area than there are parking spaces — 289 bedrooms and 166 parking spaces, according to Osur.

And because it’s free to park there, an increasing number of commuters are parking on Park and Dale avenues, Park Circle and Midland Avenue and walking or taking the bus into town.

At least three housing developments also are being planned in the area and they do not provide enough parking for their inhabitants.

“We have been over-powered by so much employee housing,” resident Barbara Lee told council, adding that because the area is not an enforced zone, snow removal is a low priority for the city and the streets become very narrow.

“It’s just a constant imposition for people who don’t have a garage and they go up and down the street” looking for a place to park, she said.

Osur wanted to attempt to clear the streets by enforcing the 72-hour rule as a 90-day trial to see if it alleviates parking pressures before handing out so many permits to residents and having to hire another officer to enforce an additional zone.

Mayor Steve Skadron and Councilwoman Ann Mullins opted for that option but were in the minority.

Councilman Adam Frisch said the East End neighborhood shouldn’t be treated any differently than others surrounding the commercial core.

“It’s turned into the East of Aspen intercept lot,” he said, adding that residents in the area he has heard from support a paid parking zone. “It’s the only place left to park for free close to town.”

Osur said it would be at least mid-summer before the zone is established.

The zone will be just like the rest of the residential zones surrounding the commercial core in which people can park for free for two hours; carpool permits allow for free parking; cars must be moved every 72 hours; and electric vehicles and neighborhood vehicles park for free.